Consumer Meaning Making: The Meaning of Luxury Brands in a Democratized Luxury World

Publication Date: Wednesday 1 May 2013
Author(s): Hudders, L.; Pandelaere, M. & Vyncke, P.
Appeared in: International Journal of Market Research, vol.: 55, issue: 3, 69-90

Abstract

The nature of luxury is constantly changing and this makes it difficult to formulate a universal definition of luxury brands. The current paper aims to enrich the understanding of luxury brand meaning from a consumer perspective. In particular, this paper investigates consumers' perceptions of luxury brands based on the extent to which they associate various attributes to luxury brands. A large-scale survey in the Flemish part of Belgium reveals three facets of luxury brand meaning: an expressive facet that refers to the exclusivity of luxury brands, an impressive-functional facet that refers to premium quality and an impressive-emotional facet that refers to extraordinary aesthetic aspects. In addition, the current study distinguishes three consumer segments (i.e., impressive, expressive and mixed segment) that differ from each other for the importance they attach to these facets of luxury brand meaning. The impressive segment associates luxury brand meaning with both impressive-functional and impressive-emotional facets, while the expressive segment associates luxury brand meaning with the expressive facet, rather than with impressive facets. The third segment, mixed group, thinks both expressive and impressive facets of luxury brand meaning need to be present before a brand can be categorized as luxury brand. In addition, the current study extends previous segmentations by providing a detailed profile of the segments. In particular, this study shows that the views are differentially related to both individual difference variables and various aspects of individual wellbeing (i.e., self-esteem and negative affect).

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